COVID-19 showed its weak point: the virus needs only one protein, it will be targeted by treatment methods

COVID-19 showed its weak point: the virus only needs one protein

The scientists said they were able to find a weak point in SARS-CoV-2. In order for the coronavirus to multiply and spread, it only needs one single protein. On that basis, the researchers intend to target future treatments. Transmembrane protein 41B proved to be famous for helping to form the fatty outer membrane that is able to protect the genetic material of the virus. It sits inside an infected cell, then infects another and moves into it.

A research, carried out in New York University, proved that this particular protein is essential for the replication of the coronavirus. During several experiments, the scientists compared the reproduction of the COVID-19 virus in infected cells with the same processes that occur in two dozen deadly formations that cause such dangerous diseases as yellow fever, Zika disease and other.

They also compared reproduction in infected cells with three other seasonal coronaviruses that cause the common cold. As a result, it turned out that the 41B protein is a critical infection factor.

Senior Scientist John Poirier believes the discovery is an important step in the fight against the COVID-19, as the discovery of an important protein makes it possible to map the molecular landscape.

On its basis, one can see what possible goals can be used to combat the disease and how to stop potential epidemics in the future. Inhibition of this protein has so far been named as the main method of possible use to stop the coronavirus infection.

But during the study, the scientists discovered hundreds of other proteins that could become potential drug targets in the future. It is proposed to use a gene editing tool to disable 1 out of 19 thousand genes in human cells - it is the one infected with the COVID-19 and other viruses.

The experts believe the research team's success in using CRISPR to map the molecular weakness of SARS-CoV-2 serves as a model for scientists around the world to counter future viral outbreaks.

“Genome-scale identification of SARS-CoV-2 and pan-coronavirus host factor networks” by William M. Schneider, Joseph M. Luna, H.-Heinrich Hoffmann, Francisco J. Sánchez-Rivera, Andrew A. Leal, Alison W. Ashbrook, Jérémie Le Pen, Inna Ricardo-Lax, Eleftherios Michailidis, Avery Peace, Ansgar F. Stenzel, Scott W. Lowe, Margaret R. MacDonald, Charles M. Rice and John T. Poirier, 9 December 2020, Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.12.006